On Friday, May 25, the Kate Goodrich Elementary gymnasium hosted a school assembly and ceremony in recognition of three local veterans, who thanks to generous fundraising efforts will soon answer their well deserved boarding calls for the Never Forgotten Honor Flight (NFHF). Honor Flight boarding passes were presented to local veterans Todd Annis, Randy Perry and Wolfgang Lenk.
The Honor Flight gives veterans an opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to visit the various memorials which stand in their honor. The Honor Flight operates mainly on donations from the community.
Kate Goodrich students and staff started planning for the Honor Flight fundraising in December. It took five months to put it all together.
“Kate Goodrich is implementing Integrity, Respect, Safety and Responsibility as part of our Positive Behavior in School (PBIS),” said Kate Goodrich teacher Melanie Hagemeister, who spearheaded the project. “We thought having our students be able to implement this and helping others would be a good learning opportunity for our students as well as honoring our wonderful military men and women.”
Fundraising efforts included a Culver’s Night in February. Laurie and Joe Wakefield donated 10 percent of all proceeds from an entire day to Kate Goodrich in the school’s quest to send a veteran on the Honor Flight. Pat Taylor held an all day bake sale inside of Culver’s, from which she also donated the money to Kate Goodrich Elementary.
Students also designed an Honor Flight T-shirt and sold over 200 shirts.
“When we started planning, our goal was to raise enough money to send one veteran on the flight and to our surprise and the help of the students and staff we were able to surprise three veterans at our assembly!” Hagemeister said.
The school raised a total of $1,500 and presented a $500 donation to each veteran on the day of the assembly for their sponsor to fly with them to Washington D.C.
“Our hearts were overwhelmed and excited to know we were going to surprise three veterans at our first ever Honor Flight assembly,” Hagemeister said. “We want to create these opportunities for students so they are aware that our freedom comes from these brave men and women who along with their families made sacrifices for all of us. Freedom isn’t free! In doing these assemblies, our students learn that these are moments in which to reflect upon others sacrifices for the freedoms and the lifestyles that we enjoy today. Students learn to reflect and to honor those that provided us with the opportunities.”
Todd served in the U.S. Army for one year where he spent time in Vietnam, before transferring to the Army Reserves for five years. Todd is currently #311 in line to take the Honor Flight. Randy was a Specialist in the United States Army for two years, spending time in Alaska as a clerk. Randy is currently #583 in line for the Honor Flight. Wolfgang served in the U.S. Air Force for four years, at the rank of Sargeant. Wolfgang spent some time in Germany as well as time in Vietnam. He currently stands at #188 in line to take the Honor Flight.
There are 48 veterans in Merrill that are currently on the waiting list for the Honor Flight.